Here comes the other half of our theoretical college team, the top defensive players whose high school roots are in the Lake Area.
DT Damon Knox 6-5 280 Jr Michigan State (Muskegon)
His redshirt sophomore season was Knox’ first as a regular. He had 22 tackles (2 1/2 for loss) for Michigan State’s Big Ten and Rose Bowl championship team. He was a projected starter this season but is curretnly out with an injury.
DE Anthony Zettel 6-4 279 Jr Penn State (West Branch Ogemaw Heights)
He’s moving inside for new Penn State coach James Franklin, who wants Zettel up to 285. In 2013 he played every game at defensive end, including two starts. For our theortical scheme here, we’ll use him as a 5 technique. One of Z’s two starts was against U-M, and Zettel had his lone career interception. He had four sacks and six tackles for loss as a redshirt soph.
DE Justin Zimmer 6-3 255 Jr Ferris State (Greenville)
Zimmer was a high school middle linebacker at Greenville who the Bulldogs kept at home and now he’s caught the NFL’s attention as a pass-rusher. His first season starting came as a redshirt sophomore, earning Zimmer All-GLIAC honors leading Ferris with 7 1/2 sacks and 10 1/2 tackles for loss. He also returned an interception for a touchdown.
LB Desmond Morgan 6-1 232 Sr Michigan (West Ottawa)
He’s contributed since he was a true freshman and has started over 30 games for the Wolverines. As a junior Morgan had 79 tackles, including 4 1/2 for loss, and an interception. With Jake Ryan moving to middle linebacker, the big hitter out of West Ottawa will move back to the weakside.
LB Brad Horling 6-2 215 Jr Grand Valley State (Zeeland East)
He’s moving to linebacker for Grand Valley after playing his first two seasons as a Lakers strong safety. Despite a broken hand, in 2013 Horling had 55 tackles while intercepting a pass and breaking up three others.
LB Morgan Stenz 6-0 214 Sr Northern Michigan (Alpena)
A quarterback as well during his Big North days, this will be his second season starting in Marquette. As a redshirt junior, Stenz was second in tackles for NMU with 82 tackles. Stenz had two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
LB Trent Voss 6-3 220 Jr Toledo (East Grand Rapids)
His second season as a regular started quite well for Voss. He had 33 tackles, including 5 1/2 behind the line, before getting hurt in the Rockets’ seventh game.
DB Justin Currie 6-2 204 Sr Western Michigan (Big Rapids)
A rare Lake Area recruit for the Broncos’ previous coaching regime, the new staff is glad to have him. Had WMU won more, Currie would have been a no-contest All-MAC pick after a junior season in which he led WMU with 113 tackles (7 1/2 for loss) and interceptions with three. Currie had 98 tackles as a sophomore.
DB Major Metcalf 6-2 220 Sr Saginaw Valley State (Muskegon Catholic Central)
Linebacker-sized safety who as a redshirt junior had 56 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Metcalf was an all-stater on Muskegon Catholic Central’s undefeated 2008 stae championship team.
DB Daniel Pittman 6-0 196 Sr Hillsdale (Grand Rapids West Catholic)
He was a star on West Catholic’s 2010 state championship team who hasn’t missed a stride, as this will be Pittman’s fourth season as a Chargers’ starting cornerback. In 2013 he led Hillsdale’s defensive backfield with 42 solo tackles and 11 pass breakups.
DB Devonte’ Jones 5-10 185 Sr Grand Valley State (St. Joseph)
He should be one of the top cornerbacks in the GLIAC. He started a dozen games as a redshirt junior, and made four interceptions. Jones also had 53 tackles and a fumble recovery.
As the high school season starts, one can’t but help and link it to the similarly approaching college season. With that in mind we look at the top Lake Area high school alumni now playing at the next level.
OT Jake Fisher 6-6 299 Sr Oregon (Traverse City West)
NFL.Com says the Ducks have the third most Draft-able team in college football. Fisher is in that mix as an athletic fourth-year senior and three-year starter. He went out to Oregon as a TC West tight end but has been a right tackle ever since. Fisher is all kinds of athlete, helping QB Marcus Mariota pile up Heisman numbers. With more consistency and better pass blocking, Fisher is first-team Pac-12 material (he was honorable mention as a sophomore and junior) and will have his named called early next April.
OT Jack Conklin 6-6 303 So Michigan State (Plainwell)
In those same NFL.Com Draft talent rankings, MSU is No. 4 behind the aforementioned Ducks. Conklin is just another example of the Spartans staff’s ability to recruit without the distraction of star rankings and turn these “nobodies” into pros. The son of Plainwell head coach Darren Conklin, Jack signed with Michigan State in the spring of his senior year in 2012. By the fall of 2013, he was MSU’s starting right then left tackle and eventually a freshman All-American on a Rose Bowl champion. Now a redshirt sophomore down 30 pounds from last season, Conklin is on the Outland Trophy Watch List.
C Connor Kruse 6-5 325 Sr Michigan State (Lowell)
Kruse is MSU’s first-team right guard, but for our purposes penciled in at center, a position he’s seen time at in the past. Kruse walked on in East Lansing after a state championship and two all-state seasons at Lowell. He’s been a scholarship player since the 2012 season.
OG Jon Ackley 6-3 292 Jr Albion (North Muskegon)
This right guard was Albion’s rookie of the year as a freshman in 2012. He moved to left tackle in 2012 and was first-team All-MIAA. To make this theoretically loaded lineup replete with potential pros, Ackley will move back to guard.
OG Parker Ehinger 6-7 292 Jr Cincinnati (Rockford)
Another lanky Rockford lineman who pulls well, Ehinger found his way onto the field in 2012 when Cincinnati’s starting right tackle was injured and started 10 games. He played both right side spots as a redshirt sophomore on Cincinnati’s 9-4 team.
QB Tyler VanTubbergen 6-3 198 Sr Western Michigan (West Ottawa)
The redshirt senior is second on WMU’s depth chart heading into the fall. In 2013 VanTubbergen started six games before injuring his shoulder, completing 82-of-183 throws for 930 yards and four TDs.
RB Bronson Hill 5-10 215 Sr Eastern Michigan (Grand Rapids Catholic Central)
Over the last half century, few Lake Area schools have put out like Catholic Central has across generations. Hill set the CC record for single-season rushing TDs as a senior. He hasn’t been quite prolific in the MAC, but he’s certainly been good. As a junior he ran for 1,100 yards (a hefty 5.6 yards per carry) and 5 TDs. It had been a decade since an EMU runner reached the millenial lark. Over the past two seasons he’s put together 2,389 yards total offense and 13 TDs. He’ll have an NFL shot.
RB Kitwana Clark 5-8 190 So Ferris State (Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills)
Sharing time his first season at Ferris with another former Lake Area standout, Jamaal Jackson a senior from St. Joseph, Clark showed flashes of what made him so special at Kenowa Hills. On just 45 carries he ran for 308 yards and four TDs.
FB Joe Kerridge 6-0 244 Jr Michigan (Traverse City St. Francis)
He was a scoring machine for St. Francis’ back-to-back state championship teams who has transitioned to being a blocker and occasional pass catcher in Ann Arbor. The redshirt junior started seven games for Michigan in 2013, in addition to special teams duties. Kerridge was twice named Academic All-Big Ten.
TE Jamie Potts 6-3 225 Jr Grand Valley State (Muskegon Oakridge)
This one-time Oakridge quarterback is as good an athlete as you’ll find from the Lake Area regardless of college level. Potts was as first-team Division 2 All-American as both a tight end then in baseball as an outfield for the Lakers. 2013 was the most prolific pass-catching season by a tight end in Grand Valley State history, as Potts had 54 catches for 900 yards and 11 TDs.
WR Matt Kroll 6-2 190 Jr Hope (Grand Haven)
He came from one of the Lake Area’s most pass-friendly offenses in the next town up from Hope, Grand Haven, and in 2014 will provide a veteran target for a new Flying Dutchman QB. As a sophomore Kroll had 24 catches for 338 yards and five TDs.
It took him a minute to adjust to the speed of his receivers; and then again to the speed of the defenders. But apparently this rising freshman is a quick study in addition to showing a live arm. No promises, but good chance you’ll be hearing about Barlow down the line. He’ll have a couple varsity years with a talented target who played well at the combine himself, 5-11, 175 St. Joseph soph receiver Brandon Green.
The Lake Michigan Football Report will be on the road again this summer in search of the best football talent out there. Players with the desire and potential to play at the collegiate level are invited to join us at the 2014 Summer Football Showcase on Wednesday, July 23rd, at St. Joseph High School (2521 Stadium Dr, St Joseph, MI 49085). The event will run from 7:00PM – 9:00PM and will give players an opportunity to showcase their skills in combine testing, position drills, and one-on-ones. Click HERE for complete details and to register today!
1. Jon Wassink 6-2 185 QB Grand Rapids South Christian Western Michigan
2. Wesley French 6-5 295 DL/OL St. Joseph
3. Jon Keenoy 6-3 285 OL East Kentwood Western Michigan
4. Bryce Witham 6-4 225 DL/TE Grand Rapids West Catholic
5. Carter Masek 6-3 235 LB East Grand Rapids Miami-OH
6. Travis Russell 6-3 190 QB Grand Rapids West Catholic
7. Tyree Jackson 6-3 185 QB Muskegon Mona Shores Buffalo
8. Steve Eipper 6-4 255 OL/DL Greenville Central Michigan
9. Derek Smith 6-4 250 OL/DL Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills Central Michigan
10. Blake Bockheim 6-4 220 TE Grand Rapids Northview
11. Sam Beal 6-2 175 WR Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills Western Michigan
12. Matt Seybert 6-4 230 TE/DL Traverse City St. Francis Buffalo
13. Bryce Wilker 6-6 280 OL Belding
14. Gabe Andree 6-0 185 DB Grand Rapids Christian Toledo
15. Kenneth Willekes 6-2 200 LB Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian
16. Adam Trautman 6-5 210 QB Elk Rapids
17. Qi’antae Ewing 6-3 235 LB Grand Rapids Christian
18. Jarrad Whited 6-2 225 DL/TE Vicksburg
19. Danil Young 5-10 180 DB Grandville
20. Chase VanHoef 6-4 280 OL Grand Haven
21. Nate Couturier 5-10 150 WR Allendale
22. Dakota Scholten 6-4 220 TE/DL Grant
23. Andrew Duckett 6-1 185 QB Niles Brandywine
24. Jacob Geter 5-8 170 RB Plainwell
25. Kasey DeWitt 6-4 220 DL/LB Shelby
26. Jack Bates 6-2 215 LB Grand Rapids Christian
27. Dereko Riley 5-8 170 DB/RB Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
28. Mike Egeler 6-4 225 DL Comstock Park
29. Zach McGuire 6-1 190 ATH Traverse City West
30. DeKurtis Murphy 6-5 295 OL/DL St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic
31. Mikey Roth 5-11 185 QB East Grand Rapids
32. Marty Ward 5-9 215 RB Niles Brandywine
33. Nick Marosi 6-2 185 WR Grand Rapids Catholic Central
35. Malik Swain 6-2 280 DL Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills
34. Chase Herrington 6-3 210 LB Greenville
36. Joeviar Kennedy 6-3 180 WR Muskegon
37. Mitchell Quakkelaar 6-3 250 OL/DL Grand Rapids South Christiane
38. Victor Wiliams 6-2 270 DL East Grand Rapids
39. Juwan Jarnegan 6-0 220 DL Grand Rapids Christian
40. Tommy Brown 6-2 265 DL/OL Grand Rapids Northview
41. Sam Heyboer 6-4 200 WR Grand Rapids South Christian
42. Alezay Coleman 5-9 175 DB Muskegon
43. Kyle Friberg 6-2 175 QB East Kentwood
44. TJ Patterson 6-3 260 DL/OL Reed City
45. Cole VanOosten 6-7 270 OL Kalamazoo Christian
46. Eddie Kelly 6-0 205 RB Caledonia
47. Trevor Raby 6-4 225 TE/OL Zeeland West
48. Jay Doll 6-0 190 QB Paw Paw
49. Caleb McNitt 6-2 215 ATH West Ottawa
50. Ben Hartley 6-2 180 DB West Branch Ogemaw Heights
QB Adam Trautman 6-5 210 2015 Elk Rapids
RECAP: Trautman first caught our eye with a solid performance at our Grand Rapids combine back in March, but he delivered an MVP performance on Friday night in Traverse City. At QB, the 6-5 210lb Trautman showed a strong arm and made all the throws. Very rarely did the ball hit the ground when he was under center. Trautman also displayed great mobility when asked to move out of the pocket, which backed up his respectable 4.76 40-yard dash time and 4.4 pro-agility shuttle. He not only looks the part of a Division I quarterback, but he also plays it very well. As he embarks on the summer camp circuit, expect MAC schools to come calling. He reminds us of recent Jacksonville Jaguars pick and former University of Central Florida QB Blake Bortles. Trautman also excels in the classroom, maintaining a 3.8 GPA and 28 ACT. Congratulations to Adam on his MVP performance!
SEASON HIGHLIGHTS: http://vimeo.com/89570211
It was a great night at Thirlby Field for the 3rd annual Lake Michigan Football Report Exposure Camp. Lots of talented players came out to showcase their skills in front of college coaches, but only a dozen could make the All-Camp team. Check out this year’s crop of talented prospects!
QB Grant Klaver 6-1 205 2015 Okemos
RECAP: Grant Klaver had an impressive day throwing the football. He showed his entire arsenal as he zipped short passes into tight windows, threw well on the run, and also completed deep passes down the field from the pocket. His stock should continue to rise as he goes through the summer camp circuit. Expect him to draw a lot of interest from Division II and Division III programs.
OL Jacob Cerny 6-5 280 2016 Traverse City West
RECAP: Jacob Cerny is a physically imposing lineman and the latest lineman to emerge at Traverse City West. He performed well in the positions drills and showed good lateral movement in the shuttle. He’ll need to get a little stronger to transition to the next level, but he has a lot of potential to become a good college tackle.
OL Derek Smith 6-4 250 2015 Kenowa Hills
RECAP: Derek Smith tested well and played well to make the All-Camp team. The lineman ran a sub-5.00 40-yard dash and turned in a pair of 4.7s in the pro-agility shuttle. At the next level, he projects well at offensive guard or defense end on the other side of the ball.
DL TJ Patterson 6-3 260 2015 Reed City
RECAP: Patterson has a good motor and good size. He uses his quickness to his advantage when going up against O-Linemen. He played fundamentally sound and could find his way into the GLIAC with continued work.
DL James Mogford 5-11 260 2015 Elk Rapids
RECAP: While Mogford didn’t test off the charts, he played physical and was able to dominate his opponent quite often in the position drills and one-on-ones. He’s versatile enough to play on either side of the line.
LB James Gazarato 5-11 208 2015 Petoskey
RECAP: Showcased great strength and led the camp with most reps at 225lbs (15). Also showed good speed in the 40-yard dash, clocking a 4.76. Gazarato isn’t just a workout warrior, though. He showed good athleticism during position drills and was a notable force during 7v7 play.
LB Dion Burke 5-10 180 2016 Kingsley
RECAP: Burke played with really active hands during 7v7 and was able to run stride for stride with slot receivers. He has really good football instincts, which is a welcomed trait from a sophomore.
LB Montena Owczarzak 5-11 220 2015 Garber
RECAP: Owczarzak comes from a small school which you may not be able to find on a map, but after a strong showing and All-Camp recognition, coaches should take notice. He was always around the ball during 7v7 play and demonstrated good footwork during position and one-on-one drills. He’s the prototype size for a college LB.
LB/TE Dylan Wyman 6-1 210 2015 Grayling
RECAP: Dylan Wyman came in under the radar but tested solid and played even better. He was a ball hawk who played with good technique.
RB Andre Jones 5-5 155 2016 Reed City
RECAP: Jones had a big day, showcasing great speed with a camp-leading 40-yard dash time, a blazing 4.49. He also put up 185lbs on the bench press 11 times. He shows great balance and has a really good feel for the game at running back. Jones has all the intangibles that coaches look for in a player and, despite his size, he has college football written all over him.
RB Malik Smith 5-9 185 2016 Boyne City
RECAP: Malik Smith has been on the scene since starting on varsity as a freshman at RB and LB. Smith tested well, showing good speed and great strength. He clocked 4.60 in the 40-yard dash and lifted 225lbs for 9 reps. He was equally impressive in the drills, displaying great hands and good footwork.
DB Zack McGuire 6-1 190 2015 Traverse City West
RECAP: McGuire is an athlete who tests well and plays well. He’s versatile, athletic, and has the coveted combination of size and speed. McGuire posted strong numbers across the board, clocking a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash, lifting 225lbs for 8 reps, and clocking the camp’s fastest pro-agility shuttle times on a wet field (4.09, 4.25). During one on one drills and 7v7, McGuire embraced man-to-man coverage and showed why he’s the best corner back in the north. He’s currently drawing interest the GILAC and MAC programs.
The Lake Michigan Football Report is looking for college football prospects to showcase their skills at our next football exposure camp in Northern Michigan. Join us “under the lights” on Friday, May 9th, 2014, at beautiful Thirlby Field in Traverse City, MI! Click HERE for more details! Camp will be held rain or shine… this is football!
#ThrowbackThursday Alumni Edition: Catching up with TJ Schepperly (TC Central / Northwood University)
T.S. Quick Facts:
Height / Weight: 5’8 / 185
Current College: THE Northwood University
Current/Projected Position: Wing Back(running back)
Major: Marketing/Sports Management
High School Career Highlights: My number one highlight was being able to play my senior year with my little brother. Watching him grow and develop into something special makes me a proud brother. He was a huge part of our team’s success. The other highlight would just be doing what I love with the people I love. An amazing team, a great crowd and student section, and a community that came together as one big family. The support our team received throughout high school is what made it special.
LMFR: What positions did you play at the high school level? What position did you believe you would be playing at the collegiate level?
TS: In high school I went to Traverse City Central and played quarterback my junior and senior year. At the college level I had no idea what I wanted to play. Didn’t have much height for QB, never really played the DB position all that much and never showed that I could run between the tackles because most of my runs were to the outside. I guess I just went in with the mindset that I was willing to play anywhere. I currently play wing back after switching over from strong safety during the fall.
LMFR: What is your current major and what do you plan to accomplish with that major once you graduate? How do you balance academics and athletics?
TS: My current major is marketing. My plan is to double major with sports promotion management and hopefully do something where I’m involved with a major sports franchise. Balancing academics with athletics is tough if you don’t stay on track. You have to be disciplined in knowing that you’re at school, number one for an education and number two, to play football. There are study halls and tutors and the coaches are always there for you if you need help. But the biggest thing is constantly reminding yourself of why you are here, and that is school and football.
LMFR: How is college football different compared to the high school level?
TS: College football is definitely tough. Not only is everyone bigger, faster, and stronger, but the overall time commitment is very intense. It’s a year round game. some days are 12 hours of just football. Offseason does not exist in college. Between the regular season and spring ball you have winter conditioning and winter workouts. The summer is the only short time away from your team and that time is used to gain a step on your opponents while they’re enjoying their summer vacation. That’s also what makes it special, because the guys that do commit to it have a true love for the game of football and want to be successful.
LMFR: Weight lifting is such a vital part in transferring from high school to college athletics, how has weight lifting helped you perform better on the field and at your specific position?
TS: In high school I was lucky enough to have some of the best strength coaches at that level for the state of Michigan. They worked extremely hard to get our weight room where it’s at today. It’s definitely up there for one of the best facilities in high school in the state. They take their job very seriously and prepare us everyday just like they do at the collegiate level. If you want to compete on the field, then you have to work hard in the weight room. College is the exact same way. The workouts are slightly more position directed. For example, the running backs, receivers, and defensive backs are more speed and explosive lifts, while the lineman have heavier, more powerful lifts.
LMFR: As a high school student-athlete attending the Lake Michigan Football Report combine, what were some things you experienced during the event that helped you reach the collegiate level?
TS: Exposure. Getting your name out for coaches to see is a huge part of the recruiting game. If they recognize you as a junior, they will be able to see how you can perform come fall. The drills at the combine are the same type of drills the coaches ask you to do when you come for your workouts so that is another huge benefit. If you know what they are asking of you, you can practice it and perform well for the coaches.